This is not an exhaustive exposition, it is a comment. There is so much that is going on in our country at the moment that gets one’s tongue wagging about the possibility of a bleak prospect as far as our future is concerned even if it is done in the safe haven of our closed doors. South Africans find themselves at a point whereby either fully acknowledge the problem that’s facing them or wait for a full scale implosion as far as race is concerned. For lack of space in the present article I do not want to focus on particulars of incidents that point to us that race continues to be a problem in our country neither do I have a fully fledged arsenal that can assist us in this regard as much as I desire to delve into an informed analysis, which might of course take time to be finished and whenever when that happens I might risk speaking above the reader. So I will shoot from the hip.¶
/the part of the body connecting head to the rest of the body/
/a place or angle where two or more sides or edges meet/
A devoted reader of mine commented on my Freedom article that 1she was in absolute disagreement with me for implying that the elite in this country needs to distribute their wealth to the struggling masses left to fend for themselves in the margins of our mythical Rainbow Nation. For him, did I say him? (so much for self censoring) They preferred that the land be returned to its rightful owners so that the ‘Bantu could plant miellies and organic veggies, shear Sheep, sheppard Goats and breed cows for meat and milk in peace. This he asserts will be a way to assert the destiny of the disenfranchised in South Africa.
/the power or right to act, speak or think freely/
/the state of being free/
If you are a moralist or an animal rights activist you can stop reading now for what I am about to tell you may cause you to have a fall out with me. Growing up in the eighties I had a privilege during some of the summer to spend time in Ga-Rankua. In case you are not well travelled and have not heard about that lovely place Ga-Rankua is situated north of our capital city. It was during the time when that area together with Mabopane and Soshanguve fell under the Mangope government – Boputhatswana which was a Bantustan.
If we are to acknowledge the present South Africa, the Now South Africa we will have to take into consideration the behavior of the Center of Power through its State Apparatuses. By State Apparatus I mean to use the term in situ with Luis Althusser’s writings on Ideology in mind.
Today South Africa is part of the global village in terms of its participation in Trade, Sport and Arts and Culture. It posses a proper infrastructure in terms of access to world knowledge and it is a contributor as well. On other levels of media it is importing as well as exporting its own content to the rest of the world. It is wired. It is a player in Mass media domain. However, like the so called developed world, it faces challenges of economic development. It also posses a surplus of educated young people both black and white but unfortunately unemployment is a major challenge.
Relationships have their nourishment entrenched in communication. Without communication, even with ourselves, from an individual perspective, there exists no growth. We can see this everyday when we wake up to tackle the world. We are in constant communication with who we are as we battle with the forces of destiny to attain the goals we have set out for our selves. However even if we are fueled by self ambition, because by default we are social beings, we are compelled to establish relationships outside of our own personal spheres in order to achieve our goals; additionally those formed relationship need to be maintained and sustained over particular periods of time as bargaining chips in order that our multifarious selves, fueled by personal ambitions, succeed in getting towards the finishing lines of our individualistic goals. We are opportunistic beings.
In my last meditation I spoke about the acceptance of the status quo as a positive progression towards unity; specifically speaking towards – a United Rainbow Nation. Otherwise-obliviously our Republic suffers an internal conflict within itself as disunity creeps in and outright and visible separation makes itself the prevalent order. Also in that very meditation I have ushered us opaquely unto the doorstep of a particular concept, that of dialogue.
The brutal murder of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader Eugene Terre’Blanche will inevitably cause a major tremor in South African politics. Unfortunately the landscape of politics in our country is defined by race, when a high profile leader dies, it matters whether he or she was black or white – before we even establish the cause of death. Then the establishment of the cause of death rounds off our impression from which we can move on. Despite the fact that post ’94 we viewed our selves as a Rainbow Nation, never has there been a time as conducive as now to inquire as to how many of us bought into the Rainbow Nation ideal. Perhaps when it was proclaimed, with glistening eyes, some Republicans scoffed and grunted ‘we will see whether it will work out or not’.
Is the advent of the Soccer World Cup in Africa a blessing in disguise to reveal the concealed cracks in our superstructure(s)? Do mind that against the ensuing violence, protest and lawlessness the world’s attention is focused on the Republic of South Africa. June to July 2010 will pass there is no questioning that fact, it is as stark as our furrowed foreheads.
Over the past years the townships and informal settlement have displayed a nag to take to the street and sing songs of protest if they are not certified with how the show is running often tearing the surroundings and themselves part in the process. The results, a backward leap in terms of infrastructure destruction that is caused by protests.
Let us set the scene
In 1994 South Africa declared itself a united nation, a Rainbow nation following the first democratic election that saw all South Africans playing an inclusive role. It remained to be seen whether a nation that had been suppressed by an Ideology of separate development would be able to transcend the barriers entrenchedover half a century. In the same breath one should not lose sight of the master race mentality that the natives have been subjected to over the centuries following colonization. Through Madiba and Tutu South Africa was peacefully ushered into an era based on reconciliation, Ubuntu and One Nation Building as stepping stones to a new identity. In the long run jobs which were not accessible to black people were made accessible, Black people were now allowed to shop in the same environment as the white people. Affirmative action was erected to address inequalities of race representation as well as gender in-equalities in the work environment – the disable communities rights would also be addressed in the long run. A new chapter had truly opened for the black people and for all.
Akin to the collapse of the Berlin Wall at the dawn of the 90’s so had the wall that separated South Africans from the inevitable commingling with each other removed. Black and white people were now viewing each other from a close quarters perspective – as equal. And the nation gave birth to the new constitution which was inclusive of everyone’s rights. Now no matter what tribe or colour you were as long as you were South African, you were now seen as part of a fabric that was woven into what was to be venerated as the Rainbow Nation. The South African Soccer squad was hailed the Rainbow warriors, soon to be replaced by the name Bafanabafana and the Rugby team was named Amabokoboko after the name Springboks. A new era had arrived. Senyaka rejoiced with his hit ‘Apartheid law’ which congratulated Madiba’s triumphant victory at the toppling of Apartheid Ideology and Brenda Fassie’s banned classic ‘Black President’ could now be played without fear of persecution. South Africa had leaped into a new dimension and had leaped well, however most importantly South Africa had avoided an eye for an eye approached in dealing with previous atrocities subjected to those who were not in power in the past.
Let us survey…
The recent inhuman treatment to the black staff of the Free State University white students foregrounds the fragility of the Rainbow Nation as a construct. The event clearly shows that while some of us have moved into a new era, there remain pockets and pockets of resistance to the Rainbow Nation Ideal. What is acutely dangerous is that this resistance continues to thrive despite talk of apartheid in the past tense. The case of the white men urinating into cooked meat and feeding it to the cleaning staff of the university is a barbaric act that hits home as far as how some South Africans in this nation are still being brought up with the same hate education that the martyrs that form the very foundation of the Rainbow Nation fell down fighting against. I am talking about the Apartheid Ideology here.
Now when the University Vice Chancellor, a man of the highest education standing, pardons the men who have committed an act sharply tied to the Apartheid Ideology; pardons men who have not even uttered an apology to their victims and our Nation, one get a sense that the Rainbow Nation is a Utopian Ideal to which we are still marching but not realized. The Rainbow Nation is a double sided construct that needs to be evaluated thoroughly in order for all of us to be on the same page, least we go to war in the not so distant future, permit me to add, a war that was avoided post ’94. In order to make my meditation clearer to you I shall summon an illustration in an attempt to sanction your empathy to the victims and why not use you as an example?
…about two years ago you were a first year student in a University in Tshwane, this is your third year. Originally you hail from the Free State and ironically your mother works at the University of the Free State (they never addmitted you to study there). One evening while having your supper, watching the news, a hazy video is shown. The video shows five cleaning staff members at the University of the Free State being ill treated by four white male students; the women and man and are forced to eat meat which has been urinated on. The men claim that they are initiating them. You catch a sight of one of the women, for a while you can swear it is your mother; you inch forward in your seat, baffled. When the amateur camera makes a close up, beyond doubt you realize that it is indeed your mother who is victimized. You reach for your cell phone and call her. She picks up. Is it true, is it really you who those terrible men victimized. She sobs on the other side of the line as she affirms to you that she and the others were powerless. they had no choice but to do as they were told, they were in the grips of fear. She breaks into a cry and you console her that it is now on the news, that the world knows about it, that the government knows about it, that the Human Rights Commission knows about it, that the country has put together a constitution which protects all South Africans. You promise to call her again and you reluctantly hang up. Not quite convinced that something could be done, knowing very well the type of institution your mother works for, that it has resisted change.
Two years later after much deliberation the University pardons the men who forced your mother and her colleagues to eat urinated meat crawling on all fours. The spirit of reconciliation is used as the reason for pardoning these terrible men by the university in the person of JJ the vice chancellor. When JJ is questioned by the nation as to why should the men be pardoned after they have shamed the nation he argues that in the face of all the wrong doings that are committed by high profiled South Africans, and they get away with it, the case of the four men is not that different, why should they deserve a harsh punishment? The nation consoles itself that at least the men will appear at the court of law. JJ goes into silence, hoping that the court of law will not give the men a harsh punishment. The rest is history. To date the men have not received punishment. You wait, the Nation wait.
The Rainbow Nation as an Ideal is in dire state and this is a simple matter to acknowledge. You can see it all around you. When you walk into a mall, at work, at school, etcetera, etcetera, etc. Some South Africans have not bought into the Rainbow Nation as an ideal or specifically speaking as an Ideology. Henceforth the barbaric atrocities based on racism that have continue to occur unto this day. It takes will power to hurt someone who has not harmed you in any way. It takes cultivated hate to hurt an innocent person. At the foundation of your will power there is also points of references and essential education that you are supposedly have gathered from the community that gave birth to you, starting with your parents and exploding from them into the immediate family and then the community at large (school and churches are located between your family and the community at large). We are talking about enculturation here. For much of your behavior is shaped by your social environment. The Reitz Four are evidence of the existence of a lethal society that exists in South Africa. A very dangerous organization that poses a threat to South Africa’s Ideal – the Rainbow Nation. They do not care about reconciliation, for them Black will never be equal to White! Let us be realistic, as much as we may argue that black people in South Africa are in control of the government, economically speaking they are not. Any Ideology for it to be properly entrenched it needs an economic base which can erect a superstructure to uphold it. Who has reconciled with who and who has the money in South Africa?
In a war against any Ideology one can uphold Ideals related to their Ideology as long as they can sustain them. The Ideals are sustained by economic privileges either acquired through descent or erected through wealth accumulation. We do not have to interrogate the methods of wealth accumulation here. The aim of this assertion is to tie and equate Ideals to economic wellbeing of a society. The resistance to bow to the Ideal of the Rainbow Nation is sharply tied to an Ideology that is nourished by an economic base which is not in the hands of Black South Africans otherwise the Reitz Four racist situation would not occur. The Rainbow Nation apropos the Reitz Four’s barbaric inhuman assault at the University of the Free State is as fragile as a myth. As an Ideology, the Rainbow Nation, post the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) should’ve have been gradually evolved and adapted in making it a continuous defense mechanism to racist’s debris of apartheid. That way, in resolving crimes to humanity, consultation and punishment will be meted out accordingly so that generations to come can come to appreciate and protect the Ideology of the Rainbow Nation itself. Justice for all will exist.
To read the afterword link to:
© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2009
Come 22/04 let us go to the voting station, let us not be indecisive because we know exactly what we want – we want South Africa to work. We want jobs, we want better schools, we want a growing economy and security the list can go on…but prosperity we want!
Today we have heard that JZ will not stand trial. Just close by where I reside members of the political party he represents hold their daily meetings these days in preparations for the up coming elections. In the evening when the members of this political party arrived there has been sheering, hooting of car hongs as well as blasting of political chants from the car radios. I am sure all these are well intended and are done in the spirit of camaraderie for the dismissal of charges against Jacob Zuma. I would’ve have done the same if I was imbibed with the same enthusiasm.